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Council Signs Off Plans

June 26, 2006

Media Release (For Immediate Release)


Council Signs Off Plans

Waitakere City Council has completed deliberations on its 10-year Plan and Annual Budget for 2006/2007.

The budget (known as the Annual Plan) sets projects and priorities for the next financial year while the 10-year Plan (the Long Term Council Community Plan) is a new requirement under the Local Government Act and sets priorities for the next decade.

Councillors began their deliberations with the draft plan in February. This plan was then released for public submissions, after which hearings were held.

One of the key decisions was to drop a proposal to introduce a new rating system. A change to Capital Value would have seen around a third of the City’s residential ratepayers receiving a rates reduction. There were 428 formal submissions against the proposal, with 102 in favour.

“We asked the people for their views and we heard them loud and clear,” says Janet Clews who chairs the Annual Plan-Long Term Council Community Plan Special Committee.

The decision means that rates will continue to be levied under the Land Value system (which is based on the value of a bare section of a property without improvements, such as houses).

A second major decision was to not introduce “Pan Charges” for schools. This would have seen schools paying towards the costs of removing waste water, through a levy on the number of toilets each had. Such a scheme is in place in North Shore City.

“Once again we heard loud and clear that the schools simply could not absorb these costs”, says Councillor Clews.

“We firmly believe that the Government, through the Ministry of Education, should be funding the operation of schools, and that they shouldn’t be subsidised by rate payers. But the Government isn’t stumping up. We don’t want schools to be used as a political football so we have rejected the idea,” says Councillor Clews, who is a former school teacher.

The Council also introduced a $350 flat charge for wastewater for residential properties where connection can be made to the Council’s sewerage system. Previously all wastewater was billed according to a property’s land value. Properties in rural areas such as Whenuapai, Piha and Huia are exempt.

The approved budget for 2006/2007 shows a Council controlled average rates rise of 6.8%, one of the lowest of local authorities in the region.

The average residential property owner, with a land value of $150,000, will pay $1581 next year (an increase of $1.23 per week).

Major drivers of the Council’s cost increases are depreciation and interest charges.

Next year the bulk of the Council’s spending (81%) will be on what Councillor Clews describes as “the basics” of clean water, waste water, parks, roading and community facilities such as libraries.

Features of the 2006/2007 budget include:

- A 3000 seat covered grandstand and floodlights at the Douglas Track and Field in Henderson (next to The Trusts Stadium).

- Water rates remaining unchanged at $1.48 per cubic metre.

- $2.1million to begin work on a new Youth Centre in Henderson.

- The uniform annual general charge (a proportion of the rates bill paid by all properties regardless of their land value) has been set at $600. That has the effect of evening out rates across all properties in the City.

- $2 million for the first stage of the redevelopment of Lopdell House in Titirangi

- Adoption of a transport strategy that will see a capita investment of $149 million spent in the next decade on roading improvements, railway station upgrades, walkways and other public transport initiatives. This funding will attract a further $159 million in subsidies from agencies such as Transit New Zealand.


The Annual Plan and Long term Council Community Plan will be formally signed off next Friday (June 30), after they have been reviewed by Audit New Zealand. At that point the rates for 2006-2007 will be formally “struck”.


ENDS

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